SPRINGFIELDThe Illinois Nature Preserves Commission has announced the dedication of buffer additions at two nature preserves and approval of land and water reserve registrations for lands at 10 sites throughout Illinois.
The actions of the Commission add more than 2,137 acres of valuable habitat for threatened and endangered species of plants and animals to the list of lands in the state that now have enhanced, long-term protection through these designations, said Commission acting director Don McFall.
Areas dedicated as nature preserves and nature preserve buffers may be used for activities including hiking, wildlife viewing, nature photography and approved scientific research. Areas registered as land and water reserves may be used for the same activities, as well as fishing, hunting and other approved activities that do not damage the natural features of the protected area. Activities are allowed at nature preserves and land and water reserves only with the permission of the landowner.
The nine-member Commission determines whether an area warrants protection as a nature preserve or as a land and water reserve. After approval by the landowner and the Commission, nature preserves or additions to nature preserves must be approved by the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the governor. Land and water reserves require the approval of the landowner, the Commission and the DNR director.
Neither of the buffers is in the northern Illinois area, but two of the new land and water reserve registrations are:
• Jo Daviess County, Hanover Forest Land and Water ReserveHanover Forest consists of 34.64 acres owned by the Natural Land Institute. The site is located in the western portion of Jo Daviess County within the upland bluffs overlooking the former Savanna Army Depot, now Lost Mound Unit of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The Illinois DNR awarded a Conservation 2000 grant to purchase Hanover Forest. It is located near the 361.7-acre Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve, owned by DNR, and protects a high-quality dry dolomite prairie and dry sand prairie noted for the presence of 11 state-endangered and threatened species including: shadbush, meadow horsetail, hairy white violet, hairy umbrella-wort, wooly milkweed, kittentails, cliff goldenrod, snowberry, prairie dandelion and plains sedge.
• McHenry County, Addition to Wheeler Fen Land and Water ReserveThe 3.92-acre Wheeler Park Fen Addition is located adjacent to Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve, owned by the City of McHenry. Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve is 28.98 acres of graminoid fen, sedge meadow, and uplands. Two floral surveys of Wheeler Fen reported 58 native species with two plant species previously listed as threatened, the common yellow lake sedge and early fen sedge. The addition includes a small ground water discharge zone important to the long-term viability of Wheeler Fen Land and Water Reserve.
Since 1964, Illinois has dedicated 319 nature preserves in 79 counties totaling 43,289 acres, and has registered 106 land and water reserves in 48 counties totaling 33,317 acres.